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The Swiss Leave Scheme at Crossroads: Parental- and Paternity-Leave Policy Proposals and their Implications for Gender Equality

Policy Analysis
Family
Agenda-Setting
Isabel Valarino
Universidad Autònoma de Madrid
Isabel Valarino
Universidad Autònoma de Madrid
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Abstract

This paper analyzes the development of the Swiss leave scheme (i.e., maternity, parental and paternity leaves) and the recent policy proposals put forward in the political sphere. The analysis takes a gender lens and considers leave schemes as part of the institutional and public policy context that shapes gender relations and that construct fatherhood and motherhood. The paper is divided into three parts. First it presents the unique situation of the Swiss leave scheme in European comparison. A short maternity insurance was only recently implemented at the federal level and to this day no statutory paternity and parental leaves exist. Secondly, the institutional, political, economic and cultural factors explaining this delayed, limited and gendered leave scheme are discussed. Thirdly policy proposals to reform the Swiss leave scheme submitted between 1995 and 2014 by members of the Parliament are analyzed, with a particular focus on their potential outcomes in terms of gender (in-)equality. Results show that only few proposals would create incentives for fathers to use these leaves and would therefore promote gender equality. On the contrary, several proposals would produce further gender inequalities, or create inequalities based on social class or citizenship. Finally the paper also discusses the recently launched popular initiative in favor of a 20-days paid paternity leave.